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Trump Picks Congressional Loyalist as New Intel Chief; Interview With John Delaney, (D) Presidential Candidate; Democratic Candidates Prep for Make or Break Moment at CNN Debate; GOP's McConnell Defends Blocking Election Security Bills; American Tourists Accused of Killing Italian Police Officer. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 29, 2019 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Another major shake-up under way in the Trump cabinet. With the President nominating Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as the next National Intelligence chief. Ratcliffe is a deeply partisan Trump loyalist and fierce critic of Robert Mueller's handling of the Russia investigation. Just last week he very publicly showed that fierceness during the televised Mueller hearings.


REP. JOHN RADCLIFFE (R-TX): I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He's not. And he damn sure shouldn't be below the law which is where volume 2 of this report puts him.


BALDWIN: Now by nominating Congressman Ratcliffe, Trump launches a lawmaker with fewer than five years national experience to one of the most powerful and sensitive jobs in U.S. government. It also sets the stage for a tough partisan confirmation battle. Abby Livingston is the Washington bureau chief for the "Texas Tribune" and has covered Ratcliffe since 2014 when he was a Congressional candidate. So Abby, thank you so much for jumping on TV with me today. You know then man. You tell me. Describe him over the years, his evolution as a Republican in Congress.

ABBY LIVINGSTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TEXAS TRIBUNE": He's something of an establishment rebel. And I know that doesn't make much sense but he came up through the ranks in Republican politics. He worked for John Ashcroft, the former attorney general for George Bush, he was a U.S. Attorney under George Bush.

And then he was on the Romney transition. And so he was very much a very rock-ribbed Republican party man. And then in 2014 he challenged a long-time Republican Congressman named Ralph Hall. And this was extremely upsetting. He was successful in it. But other Texas members of Congress were pretty uneased about that. It took a while for him to ingratiate himself to his colleagues. BALDWIN: How about fast forward now, right, the CNN reporting we have

now. That the President had been considering him as DNI pre-Mueller hearings but was impressed with what he saw in his questioning of the former special counsel last week.

[15:35:00] That there has been a chorus of folks claiming he though is quote unquote, simply not qualified. In watching, did you feel that was a total audition for the job?

LIVINGSTON: I mean, it's what was in his mind at the time. What I can say that I think as much as it impressed the President, I think it made Democrats more

militant and I think it put some Republican Senators who are up for reelection next year in swing states in a very uncomfortable position. And so it is going to be a very interesting way this is going to play out. And the later the confirmation takes place the tougher it's going to be for him, because we are going to get closer and closer to the 2020 elections.

BALDWIN: Establishment rebel. I have never heard that one before. Abby Livingston with the "Texas Tribune", thank you very much.

LIVINGSTON: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Republican Senator leader Mitch McConnell just moments ago defending his decisions not to tackle election security bills as he gets attacked for doing Vladimir Putin's bidding. We have that for you just in. And the countdown is on for the CNN debates. Former Congressman John Delaney who will be on that stage tomorrow night will join me live here in Detroit to talk "Medicare for All" and the President's attacks on his home state of Maryland. Stand by for that.


BALDWIN: My next guest here in Detroit, John Delaney, will take the debate stage her at Detroit tomorrow night along with nine other Democratic Presidential hopefuls. It will be the first of two nights of CNN Presidential debates. John Delaney once owned a health care company and served as Congressman for the state of Maryland. He was the first 2020 Democrat to declare his Presidential bid. So Congressman Delaney, nice to see you again. Welcome back. Do you like this?

JOHN DELANEY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a great set here. Really great.

BALDWIN: I want to start with you represented the Sixth Congressional District of Maryland just west of Baltimore.


BALDWIN: You have read all of the things President Trump has said about the city. What would you say to President Trump?

DELANEY: I would say he should be ashamed of himself. I mean first of all, Elijah Cummings is an extraordinary public servant, he's a decent individual with incredibly high integrity and character. Secondly, Baltimore is a great city. Baltimore has its challenges like a lot of places do. But it's a great city full of great people. If you actually wanted to something to help people, he should go to Baltimore, he should be doing an infrastructure bill, he should be investing in communities, he should be encouraging public-private partnerships like we have seen in Detroit which has been so important to turning this city around. He should be doing stuff like that. He should be embarrassed.

BALDWIN: Listening to an interview this morning with the Mayor of Baltimore on with John Berman and John was asking, have you heard in the last couple months as he's been mayor, have you heard from the President and he said, no.


BALDWIN: This is what Donald Trump tweeted back in 2015. This is the fun part about Twitter because you pull this all out. He says. our great African American President hasn't exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore. President Obama you have a job to do. Go to Baltimore, bring both sides together with proper leadership. It can be done.

It goes on. You see it on the screen. He's calling on the former President, the President at the time to do something, yet who does this fall on to fix Baltimore? Is it President Trump? Who is this?

DELANEY: It falls on everyone to help every community in this country, right. Communities that are struggling need investment. I used to say in business that unless someone invests, nothing happens. There was a big mass transit project in Baltimore planned a few years ago, it was called the Red Line. It was $2.5 billion. Elijah Cummings was a huge supporter of it. It never got done. Those are the kind of things we need to be doing, investing in these cities, getting private companies to invest, having more collaboration between business leaders and government leaders and investing. People like Elijah Cummings have been fighting this fight his whole career.

BALDWIN: But the fact that the President is calling out -- at the time -- President Obama to do something --

DELANEY: He's a hypocrite. This all about -- he knows these cities aren't going to vote for him and he doesn't care, he doesn't care what he says about them. Because he doesn't care about the country. He cares about himself. He's a narcissist. All he cares about is himself. The job of the President is to unify the country, to every day to get up and remind the American people we are all in this together and we have to support each other. He does none of that. All he does is attack people and try to divide the American people.

He tries to tell the American people their enemy is their fellow American because they live in a city or they have a different color of skin. It's shameful and should underscore for Democrats why this election is so important. Because can you imagine what he'll do if he's re-elected. Just imagine. He talks about political enemies. He might actually try to arrest his political enemies. That's why the stakes for this election are so high and that's why we have to run on a platform that can win.

BALDWIN: You would like to be the next President of the United States.


BALDWIN: We'll see you on the debate stage in Detroit. I know you were in Congress for six years. Before that you were this health care finance executive. We talked two and a half weeks ago, you're the only guy on stage who's really worked in health care. I know this is so near and dear to you. I want you to talk a bit about it. We saw Senator Kamala Harris. She officially today rolled out her plan. I want you to help explain. Like what's the big difference between what we saw from her, "Medicare for All" and a loophole for private insurance versus what you're supporting.

DELANEY: So I support universal health care for every American but I allow the American people to have an option.

BALDWIN: To be able to choose.

DELANEY: That's common sense. What "Medicare for All" does is it makes private insurance illegal. That's a terrible idea. We will never win the election if we run on telling half the American people their that private insurance.

[15:45:00] Which by the way, includes Medicare Advantage which half of our seniors have, that that's illegal. It's also bad health care policy, it will cause an underinvestment in the health care industry. This is something I know something about as we talked about. I'm the only person who's ever run for President who was actually in the health care business.

BALDWIN: How do you pay for it? Are you willing to tax the middle class?

DELANEY: My plan is fully paid for by taking away the corporate deductibility of health care. So right now, we have a big loophole. In other words when you get health care from your company you are not taxed on the benefit. But your employer gets to deduct it. That's a $4 trillion loophole over ten years. I'm going to take that, I'm going to use it to expand health care to every American. And then --

BALDWIN: Do you need more than $4 trillion?

DELANEY: We need $5 trillion. The other trillion comes from Affordable Care Act subsidies which we don't need. So my plan is $5 trillion and it's fully paid for. When people work at companies, they'll be able to basically not take their federal plan and get a tax credit, turn it in to their company which will then cycle back to their company health care. It's a commonsense way to give health care to every American. It's fully paid for. It allows the American people to have choices. Our seniors have choice. People who work for companies and like their health care can keep it. You know, labor unions, right, work so hard to fight for health care for their members, they'll be able to keep their health care. BALDWIN: Lastly, you will be up there on that debate stage, it will

be center stage, Sanders, Warren, the more progressives, and then it will be flanked by moderates like you.


BALDWIN: How do you, you know, fight for your time, send your message to America on what you represent with them at center stage.

DELANEY: Well, look it, I have a feeling CNN's going to do a very good job.

BALDWIN: Of course, we will, Congressman.

DELANEY: We're all going to get our airtime.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

DELANEY: And I'm going to make it very clear that we have a choice.


DELANEY: We can go down to path of these very far left policies, turn off the middle of the country and give the election to Donald Trump or we can run on commonsense solutions. I call them real solutions not impossible promises. And we'll win. That's actually what President Clinton did ran and that's actually what President Obama did when he ran.

BALDWIN: Good luck.

DELANEY: Nice to see you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. Congressman John Delaney here in Detroit. Coming up next, thousands showed up today for the funeral of an Italian police officer murdered less than two months after his wedding. Investigators say it was two American teenagers who stabbed him to death. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Moments ago on the Senate floor, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell striking back at critics taking particular aim at "The Washington Post" Dana Millbank who accused McConnell of doing quote/unquote Putin's bidding when he blocked those two election security measures last week. So here is leader McConnell from just moments ago.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Mitch McConnell, the hawkish foreign policy conservative who spent decades pushing back on Russia every way I can think of was accused of what amounts of treason by multiple media outlets within a couple of hours. These people have worn out the volume knobs so badly they have nothing left but the most unhinged smears. Welcome to modern day McCarthyism. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: McConnell spoke for nearly 20 minutes. His tone often angry as he referred to the quote, conspirational fever swamp.

We also have new details this afternoon about the mass shooting at a California festival. A 6-year-old and 13-year-old now among the confirmed victims. We are live in Gilroy as their families are speaking out.


BALDWIN: This just in from Rome. As two American teens have been arrested in connection with the stabbing death of an Italian police officer. One of those teens telling a judge he didn't know the man approaching him in plain clothes was a police officer and thought the man intended to hurt him. The two 19-year-olds are from the San Francisco area. Police say the stabbing occurred after a botched drug deal. Investigators also want to know who leaked this image, it shows one of the teen suspects blindfolded at the police station.

The officer was laid to rest at the same church he was married less than two months ago. CNN's Stephanie Elam is following this one for us this afternoon. And so Stephanie, what do you know about the teens and the crime they are accused of committing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, well, Brooke, we know that they were talking about two men here, their names are Gabriel Natale- Hjorth and he's a teen, and Finnegan Elder, he is 19 years old. And according to the police there in Rome, they are saying that Finnegan Elder has confessed to stabbing the police officer. Now they are saying he stabbed him 11 times and that they're saying that Hjorth also admits to being there at the scene.

They're alleging they did this because of a botched drug deal that involved them going out, approaching a man to buy cocaine, they say. But then finding out it was just crushed up aspirin. They stole the man's backpack and his phone and when he called, they say they would not give his belongings back until they got 100 euros and one gram of cocaine. When that didn't happen, this person went to the police. That is when these plain clothes police officers approached the two Americans and that is when they thought something had gone down.

They're saying, that is what the Americans are saying and that is when the police officer was stabbed. But at this point, according to the documents that are coming out from court, it does seem the two men have turned on each other a bit here. As they've been separated and they are being held. We do have a new statement, though, from the Elder family where they're saying that they did learn that this morning the Italian authorities did allow the U.S. Consul in Rome to visit with Finnegan for a brief time today.

They said they plan on traveling to Rome soon but we obviously are still getting more details on this but according to the police there in Rome, the two men have admitted that they were a part of this crime. BALDWIN: Got it. Stay on it for us, Stephanie Elam. Thank you very

much and thank you for being with me here live in Detroit.